Black Celebratory 2018

May 18, 2018

Graduation, Kente, and Michigan love from faculty, staff, family and friends aptly describes the 7th annual Black Celebratory.

The Black Celebratory is a formal celebration that publicly honors African American graduates, their accomplishments, and post-grad plans. Students who graduated in December 2017, April 2018, or August 2018 are invited to participate, and 79 of those students were CASL majors. 

The Celebratory was replete with dinner, live-music, and presentation of Kente stoles that graduates wear along with their cap and gown during commencement. 

At the start of the event, African American Alumni Affiliate Chair and Vice Chair Theresa Sommerville and Jerel Jones recognized Chancellor Daniel Little with an honorary kente stole as he attended his last celebratory. Sommerville and Jones mentioned and shared pictures of Little attending events held by Black Student Union (BSU) and how they personally felt supported.  "The Black Celebratory has been an outstanding part of the University cycle of events since its establishment," said Chancellor Little. "The happiness and pride of the graduates and their families and friends is infectious. The 2018 Celebratory was particularly meaningful to me as it was the last during my time as chancellor. I was especially moved to receive my own Kente stole, which will be a valued reminder for me of the cohesiveness and positivity of our inclusive community at the University of Michigan-Dearborn."

Following the special presentation, Arlisa Robinson, the student speaker addressed the graduates with words of encouragement, and keynote speaker Marlin Williams, a Technology Entrepreneur, gave a practical and powerful speech about showing up prepared, not being afraid of failure, and taking in the glorious moment of graduating from college. 

After the speeches, 40-plus grads' individually took the stage to receive their kente stoles and take photos. Post-grad plans for the graduates ranged from attending grad school, moving to Japan to practice law, and entrepreneurship, among other plans. 

"The black celebratory was an invigorating event that commemorated the accomplishments of students, not just by those in the University representative of us, but from all faculty and staff invested in an inclusionary environment which recognizes diversity as a cornerstone of greatness," said N'Kenge Gonzalez, a 2018 CASL graduate who majored in International Studies. 

As the Celebratory inches closer to a decade of being held on campus, there's only room to honor more hardworking, and deserving graduates each year. 

-- Leah Johnson Olajide

More photos from the event can be found on the UM-Dearborn Alumni Facebook page.

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